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Americans Vote Themselves Stupid on Idol

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Well, it doesn’t rank up there in news value with the Fall of Baghdad, but I am still in shock that America – or at least the portion who vote for the show – voted Ricky Smith off the show Tuesday night. Were they watching the same Ricky Smith, whose technically and emotionally brilliant version of “Endless Love” – where he sang BOTH PARTS of the Lionel Richie/Diana Ross duet so well he made Paula Abdul “forget Diana Ross even sang on the original” – that I was? Did the rewt of the country get a different version of the show than I did?

Ricky, the most likeable member of the competition (Ruben and Clay are close), had grown vocally and in emotional depth every single week of the series, after getting into the finals largely on the strength of his ebullient personality.

Smith’s performance blew away those of the ever-teetering-on-the-brink=of-elimination Kimberly Caldwell, who performed a shaky and under-powered version of Bryan Adams’ excremental “Everything I Do, I Do It For You”; Carmen Rasmusen, whose “Call Me” was poor on every measurable level. Caldwell and Rasmusen have been in over their heads for some time now, and the fact that the voters allowed both to remian in the competition while ousting Ricky – who was also better than the sainted Marine Joshua Gracin (who I like, but he is limited) and even my dark horse candidate to take the competition Trenyce – is my first major breach with America in the competition. What were you people thinking?

As far as handicapping the rest of the contest, affable, gifted, relaxed man-mountain Ruben Studdard would appear to be well in the lead, with the always surprising Clay Aiken in a strong second. If I hear one more guest judge (Lionel Richie this week) exclaim to Clay, “How does that voice come out of that body?” while he has to stand there and smile about it, I am going to kick something.

I will state here and now that Ruben, Clay, Kimberley Locke, and Trenyce are all really, really good and deserve some kind of recording/performance deal regardless of how inscrutable America votes on them. And by the way, it is confirmed, I am so not a Kelly Clarkson fan: she is a porky little pseudo-diva and the material they have given her so far could not have been more cliched, generic or boring. Spare me.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • san

    Aiken doesn’t need to win. He’ll make it anyway.

  • Dawn

    Your thoughts are unanimous. My sister said Ricky was great and she wasn’t a fan of him up until his last performance.

    She agrees with you about Carmen and Kimberly Caldwell also.

    Smoking some crack that public, smokin some crack.

  • Oh, Eric, why are you wasting your time watching this crud? Stop it, stop it now. Would you have sullied your ears with it when you were 19 and music was holy? Well don’t do it now. I’m sorry but it really pisses me off when people who should know better give this sort of thing any credence. You’ve got a million CDs and records you could be listening to. You could probably pick an old 45 at random from your collection and there’d be more originality and spirit on the B-side than this show has mustered in both series.

  • Eric Olsen

    Ah but Nigel, you have missed the point as I previously did: it isn’t really about music at all, it’s about the drama of individuals competing against themselves under extreme pressure to do their best each and every time out over the course of an extended competition. it’s very much like sports: there is real drama in it, and I have come to care about several of the competitors. Music is just the tool for the drama and the expression of the human spirit. Those kids are tough as hell and worthy of respect.

  • AntFreeze

    I tried hard not to like this show but I’ve got to admit it’s addictive. In a country that seems to want to celebrate every ineptitude and deviant behavior, this show at least tries to reward talent and class.

  • Like sports? Ah, in that case, Eric, you’ve explained in just two words exactly why it passes me by….

    I’m not sure about it rewarding talent and class, AntFreeze. It strikes me as just another “reality” freak show, deadeningly conformist and reductive, flattening out any troublesome signs of individuality and interpretation, rewarding stamina, uniformity and schmaltz rather than the ability to find something fresh and unique in a song. And where’s the market for cover versions of Lionel Richie songs in 2003?